Ar­se­nal through as Ozil crowns epic come­back

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ME­SUT OZIL scored a su­perb win­ner as Ar­se­nal came from 2-0 down to beat Ludogorets 3-2 in Sofia yes­ter­day and qual­ify for the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League.

Ar­se­nal and Paris Saint-Ger­main are the two big names in Group A and both were in a po­si­tion to ad­vance to the last 16 with two games to spare.

The Gun­ners did so and the vic­tory keeps them on course to go through as group win­ners.

Ozil’s won­der strike to se­cure the vic­tory will steal the head­lines as the gifted Ger­man ran from deep to com­plete the come­back in style.

As goal­keeper Mi­lan Bor­jan ran out of the box to meet him, Ozil lifted the ball over him, sold a dummy to two scram­bling de­fend­ers and coolly tapped in the win­ner on 88 min­utes.

Boss Arsene Wenger, whose de­ci­sion to pick a strong side de­spite the loom­ing North Lon­don derby on Sun­day against Spurs even­tu­ally paid off, said: “Great play­ers make the right de­ci­sions.

“They take the op­ti­mum so­lu­tion. To me, (at first) it didn’t look like the op­ti­mum so­lu­tion – you wanted him to take the chance ear­lier.

“But he had enough skill to prove he was right. When the ball was in the back of the net, it was clear it had been the op­ti­mum so­lu­tion.”

“I told them not to panic at 2-0 down and stick to our game,” Wenger added.

“The most dif­fi­cult thing is to be con­sis­tent at the top level. Hope­fully we can go fur­ther now.”

The Bul­gar­ian cham­pi­ons had gone in front on 12 min­utes when Jonathan Cafu re­acted quicker than the Ar­se­nal de­fence to con­vert a free­kick from close range.

Cafu then turned provider when Kieran Gibbs fell as the Brazil­ian dropped a shoul­der, al­low­ing him to cross for in-form striker Claudiu Kesuru to clip home his 10th goal in 14 games.

But then came Ar­se­nal’s as­ton­ish­ing turn­around.

Alexis Sanchez sent Ozil on a run down the left and he set up Granit Xhaka for a pre­cise left-foot strike to pull a goal back on 21 min­utes.

Aaron Ram­sey, back in the Ar­se­nal line-up, pro­vided a pin-point cross to set up Olivier Giroud, who pow­ered home his header to equalise on 41 min­utes as Bor­jan mist­imed his run.

“It’s tough for them but we never gave up,” said Ar­se­nal’s French striker Olivier Giroud.

“We killed them on the coun­ter­at­tack. I had a great de­liv­ery from Aaron and I finished the job.”

David Ospina was again se­lected in goal for Ar­se­nal in the Cham­pi­ons League ahead of Petr Cech and the Colom­bian proved his worth twice with Wan­der­son bear­ing down on him be­fore Ozil won it for Ar­se­nal. – AFP

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